Suspicion and provincialism

A lost opportunity? Not everybody is optimistic, Costas Kapellas, one of the founders of Polyedro, a leading cultural venue in the city for the past 25 years, believes the issue of Patras as cultural capital developed into a painful personal story. «The opportunity has been lost forever,» he stated despondently. «Little will happen, and above all, the city will inherit even less from the program.» He puts the blame on Mikroutsikos. «He was an unfortunate choice which has now been proven disastrous,» he said bluntly. «From the very outset he behaved dismissively and with inconceivable arrogance toward the city, to officials and academics. He created an unpleasant climate and broke up longstanding friendships, so that now half the people of Patras are not talking to the other half.» Kapellas claims that, «apart from a very small core of people, the city has remained outside the institution. A few ‘intellectuals’ backed up his behavior and closed their eyes and ears to the incredible events. «Institutions such as the University of Patras, the Greek Open University, the Municipal Gallery, the Visual Arts Workshop, the Municipal Odeon, Polyedro, the Museum of Folk Art and the Poetry Symposium were excluded. «Unfortunately, the majority of the events come through particular production companies that all have close relations with Mikroutsikos.» Something can be saved. Writer Costas Logaras agrees that the original prospects have diminished due to unfavorable economic circumstances, entanglements and political incompetence at state and local government level. He believes the game is being lost when it comes to infrastructure and the creation of cultural institutions. «Eventually,» said Logaras, «they would have given the city a real boost; they would have liberated it from its provincial impasses and highlighted the pluralism and cosmopolitan aspects of Patras’s society.» Nevertheless, «some hopes remain that quite a few things can be saved. If the artistic program is implemented and there are no further cutbacks in funds, I believe things will go well. «As the numbed or completely disappointed people of Patras see the activities occurring and not being canceled, the atmosphere will keep improving. And I think that what is more important than the good or bad that comes to us is how we handle it, how sensibly we manage it so that it comes out right in the end or, to in the case of Patras, less painful.» A starting point While not ignoring the problems and shortcomings, poet Dionysis Karatzas sees the cultural capital moment as a starting point, rather than a lost opportunity. «Instead of being pleased to be hosts, we are fretting about the proper fulfillment of an obligation. What reigned in Patras was suspicion based on earlier experience, the unreliability of public life, populism and provincialism of the ‘we can all do everything’ type.» But he is not complaining. «The opportunities have not been lost. If there are clear aims, we can create the opportunities. And if the wager has been lost, the city and its people have not. Let’s see the cultural capital as a new beginning.»

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.